If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature
One of my most important considerations when I look to add to my blog is to reflect and meditate on what is written in the Bible.
While I am known for tackling difficult and often overlooked Old Testament passages, I see the New as just as important. Old and New are complementary for, as the old adage goes: “the New is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed”; and a full understanding of the New is only possible if we know the Old.
When I consider the New, particularly the writings of Paul, from which today’s text is taken, I am constantly blown away by the meaning and implications, as is the case here. Always, there is a need to study texts from the Bible in context (including where applicable references to other texts, found elsewhere (Old and New)). Besides cultural, historical and linguistic aspects, we need to consider what is written before and what is written after. I have provided some of that, concerning today’s text, in the following:
We could even go back further to fully pick up Paul’s thread, but looking from verse 14, we are reminded that Christ’s love is our motivation for doing the will of the Father. In verse 15 we are pointed to the cross and reminded of Christ’s teaching about dying to self and living for Him. Then onto verse 16, there is the profound thought on how we are to view others – not in superficial terms that is all too common but, rather, we do so through the awakened eyes through which we are now able to see Christ.
The first word in today’s text (verse 17) is “therefore”, a word Paul frequently uses to convey the idea of “in the light of what has just been written, this is what ought to follow”. Then follows the phrase “if any man (in NT usage, that includes woman) be in Christ”. Any man can apply to all who read this, but only if he/she be in Christ. Are you/me in Christ, i.e. we follow Him; He is our Lord and Saviour; our everything? If not, what follows will not apply. But if so, we are a new creature – it goes back to “you must be born again” John 3:3 and means what has gone before, notably our past hurts, failures, disappointments, wrongdoings, ambitions can be put aside and behind us. Such is the wonder of what is being said here, for we end with the promise: “behold, all things are become new”.
Having considered our text (verse 17) it is worth now reflecting on the verses that follow as part of the “therefore” we thought about earlier. In verse 18 having been told “and all (not some) things are of God” and it follows all we have is from God “who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ”, reminding us again if what He achieved through His life, death and resurrection. And wonder of wonders, it is this message of reconciliation that has been entrusted to us and ought to be our focus for He has “given to us the ministry of reconciliation”. As if we needed reminding, we are told in verse 19 the glorious truth “to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” and in the light of this “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation”. Given so much irreconciliation in the world, it is good to be reminded that the message entrusted us will bring about reconciliation for those who believe. In verse 20, Paul raises what is a fantastic privilege as well as important duty: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”. Then in verse 21, he encapsulates what is the essence of the very message that we who are part of this new creation and ambassadors for Christ can claim and enjoy: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”.
One of the wonderful things that comes out of reading the Bible and meditating on texts such as this, is new things or things seen in a new light jumping out of the page, as has been the case here and, writing personally, is pertinent to how I feel and where I stand at this point in time. I commend this practice as a regular discipline and one we do well to adopt. Remember, if you are His, you are a new creation and may the Lord bless you.